Hard Conversations

I think life can have lots of hard conversations. These can range from financial challenges, to relationship issues, job / education struggles, medical mishaps & loads more. Many times, we’d prefer to avoid these conversations, ignore them or pretend they’ll disappear.  But difficult issues don’t usually go away & sometimes we only make the issues worse by not having the hard conversation. 

So here might be some helpful ideas for hard conversations:

  • Pray & ask for wisdom, timing, right words & opportunity
  • Choose peace & resist anxiety/ fear
  • Give room for God to help
  • Check your motives for manipulation, distortion, hurt, revenge or control
  • Listen to understand more than argue
  • Some conversations need to happen in pieces & not just a full immersion
  • Give time & space to absorb the conversation 

Why Obey God?

This is a timeless question that maybe every human has asked, at some point in their life. And I suspect that Job, in the Bible, asked this question or some version of it, during the massively difficult season in his life. So do we obey God because there will be good outcomes? Do we obey God to avoid negative experiences? Do we obey God because life will go more smoothly? Do we obey God because it makes us feel good?

Why obey God?

During my life, I have obeyed God for the reasons I just listed and more. Sometimes, my obedience has facilitated good outcomes. And sometimes, I’ve obeyed God and stuff hasn’t turned out like I wanted. So I’m coming to the conclusion that I choose to obey God because I love God and more importantly, I’m loved by God. When I keep genuine love as a core motivation, my soul stays more tender and healthy 🙂

Snowplows and Stoplights

It’s a snowy day here in Denver, so the snowplows are out on the streets and most drivers are being cautious. This is good unless you’re running late and in a hurry, then it can seem to be not good. So I found myself coaching the mental game this morning, choosing to acknowledge that the driving conditions were improved with these adjustments.

I would suggest that the same holds true with God. There are times in our lives when things aren’t going as we want or had planned. Maybe there are some unexpected hiccups, unforeseen delays, extenuating circumstances, etc and such things can be abundantly frustrating. It’s also possible that God is working through such difficulties, hardships and hiccups for our best interest. I say this because of Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So let’s keep loving God, stay true to His purposes and trust that snowplows and stoplights are operational for our best interest!

Nutritional Value

My husband & I enjoyed a delightful dinner at a “healthy” restaurant last night. The menu overflowed with nutritional options, including the desserts. My indulgence was a chia parfait and I wasn’t expecting anything very tasty. Indeed, my kids will often associate consuming healthy stuff with things being flavorless, at best. More often they think that healthy is flavor repulsive. So it was nice to be pleasantly surprised with the delicious chia parfait!

I wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful to consider nutrition in not only a food context, but also in the contexts of our attention, spiritual disciplines, relationships, intellectual pursuits, time management, conversations, etc. And ultimately, no one & no thing is more tasty or healthy than a deepening walk with God! Indeed, let us taste and see that the Lord is good! Psalm 34:8 🙂

Will You Grow?

It never ceases to amaze me how much we grow, as humans, in our first two years of existence. Not only do we gain weight and increase in height, but we also massively grow in our cognitive, emotional, relational and identity capacities. And we continue the growing experience when we go to school, learning lots of stuff related to communication, fine motor skills, organization, moral quandaries, computational proficiencies and the list goes on.

Just because we become adults, doesn’t mean that we should stop growing. May we never limit our capacities nor abilities to:

  • be compassionate,
  • explore new things,
  • learn new communication skills,
  • get more proficient with forgiveness,
  • become more loving,
  • take on new ideas,
  • meet new people

Let’s keep growing!!

What Are You Waiting For?

Some of us are better at waiting than others. But waiting is a universal human experience. We wait for traffic, phone calls, relationships, promotions, grades, test results & in this season, Jesus’ birth. 

Sometimes, what we anticipate when it arrives isn’t always what we expected – so we are surprised, disappointed or even perplexed. 

When Jesus arrived as a baby, I think Mary was relieved to have completed her pregnancy & maybe she was surprised as well, given the unexpected appearances of shepherds & magi to celebrate Jesus’ arrival!  

When Jesus landed at the temple at the beginning of Holy Week, he shocked everyone by driving out the money changers, healing the blind & sick & being celebrated by children w songs of hosanna in the highest (Matt 17). But the religious leaders weren’t remotely happy w Jesus’ arrival. 

And when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection, she wasn’t expecting to meet the risen Christ!

When Jesus comes, let’s be ready to celebrate & also appreciate that we will likely be surprised because He isn’t always what we expect 🙂

Failure or Practice?

Are you good at makeup, organizing, decorating, math, cleaning, cooking, exercise, socializing, baking, talking, etc?  I believe that God gives each of us unique talents and abilities, which we often take for granted because they seem “easy” to us.  

On the other side, I’ll bet there are some things that you’re good at doing now, but probably not very good when you started doing these things.  For example, when I first started ironing shirts, I was awful.  But over time, I’ve become more proficient with practice and now I’m much better.  

Instead of framing things from a failure and quitting perspective, let’s consider that most of the stuff we do is practice and we are on the journey of continual improvement.  For me, this helps me stay away from shame, discouragement and even quitting.  Let’s celebrate practice and stay away from failing 🙂


Furry Teeth

I’m happy to announce a successful dentist appointment. I have no furry teeth 🙂

Doing these routine cleanings is an essential requirement for dental hygiene & this makes me think about mental as well as spiritual hygiene. 

Just like we brush our teeth daily, we would be wise to do some daily prayer & Bible time to keep up our mental & spiritual hygiene. I’d also suggest that when we stay healthy mentally & spiritually we can be less prickly in our souls & interactions. 

Let’s stay steady with our spiritual routines so they stay in the daily category with brushing our teeth 🙂

Crowded Airplanes

Over the last few months, I’ve been traveling a fair amount & almost every plane is packed to the gills, such that sardines might be an accurate metaphor. And we Americans have this major issue w personal space – don’t touch, don’t lean, don’t talk, etc. We all wear our headphones / earbuds, keep the arm rests down & send out nonverbal cues that say “unavailable.” 

But today has been a nice exception to the standard porcupine posture. My seat mate engaged me in conversation & I learned some cool stuff! We didn’t solve any global crisis but the interaction reminds me to be hospitable & cordial. 

Sometimes we have to be willing to go past our comfort & culture to having meaningful connections. It’s good to talk with people who don’t look nor act like we do!

Broken Stuff

My phone is broken so it’s difficult to type the letters “c” & “r”.  So whenever I text or post something with these letters, it can be a spelling disaster & I look like I’m illiterate. And it’s abundantly frustrating!!  I’ve done the updates & tried to troubleshoot & fix this but to no avail. I think something is broken inside my phone. 

And when stuff is broken inside, it’s obvious on the outside. This also holds true for our human existence. When people act whacky, let’s be aware that this often reflects something broken on the inside. Compassion, truth, genuine love & grace are helpful salve to heal & redeem what’s broken inside others as well as ourselves 🙂

Recalculating

I hate this word & I’m learning to appreciate it at the same time. When I hear the word, “recalculating” it’s usually when my phone is giving me driving directions & I’ve missed a turn or I’m lost. More honestly, it means that I wasn’t listening or paying attention to the instructions, which happens more than I want to admit. 

This makes me wonder how often Holy Spirit recalculates our journey together.  And some questions begin to circulate in my thoughts:  Are we walking toward the same goal?  Do I want what Holy Spirit wants? Am I walking in step with Holy Spirit?  Am I listening to the directions throughout any given day?  

Not only do I want Holy Spirit to recalculate my journey so that I stay in step together, but I need Holy Spirit to recalibrate my attention so there’s less recalculating 🙂

Anyone agree with me? 

Moving Forward

In Bangledash today, i saw some of the journey that the Rohingya take from Myanmar into Bangledesh.  The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group that have lived in Myanmar for centuries. They have recently been violently displaced by the Myanmar military, despite the total denial by the military. This picture is the border between Myanmar & Bangledesh with a camp of 6,000 refugees, presently in no mans land. They can’t return to Myanmar & there’s hesitation for them to move forward into Bangledesh.

Upon making their way into Bangledesh, a Rohingya family, usually with at least 5-7 members will find their way to a transit center, which is a temporary shelter for a few days, into something more “permanent” can be located for them in one of the burgeoning camps nearby, with already more than 200,000 residents. These camps are stretched in their capacity to provide latrines, clean water & basic health care.

Nonetheless, the Rohingya are physically more safe here than in their native homeland. These are some pictures of these beautiful people. Please pray for the Rohingya.

 

Old Technology

As technology improves, I find myself becoming increasingly impatient. It I think about using a modem to connect to the web, it brings back the memories of that static sound before the connection tone. And then I think about the phones we used & how I’d stretch the cord too far & rip it off the wall. And rotary phones, well, that’s like the ultimate triceratops dinosaur!
So maybe your walk with the Holy Spirit could use some renovation & even upgrades! Please pop over to Amazon & buy new new book,

In Step With The Holy Spirit,

just launching today! Let’s be sure our walk with the Holy Spirit isn’t stuck in the glorious past nor overlooked in perfunctory acknowledgment!

Riding the Bus

I’ve taken to riding the bus to the airport & I love it! I really appreciate that someone else does all the navigating through traffic, the seats are cushioned, the temperature is pleasant & I can do my work while I ride! When I would drive myself to the airport, I’d have to be alert, dodge traffic, find a very distant parking space, walk through the cold / heat & hopefully have enough time to get through security, etc.
it seems to me that walking with the Holy Spirit is sometimes like taking the bus to a destination. Although it requires us to trust the Holy Spirit, the journey is much more enjoyable, less stressful & we usually land a lot closer to the destination than if we navigate life all alone.
If you want to learn to walk with the Holy Spirit better, pick up my new book,

In Step

& you’ll have some new experiences in your daily living from walking with the Spirit!

Do You Want Resurrection?

Here’s the truth: I’m selfish, impatient, insensitive, unforgiving, unkind, irreverent, apathetic & heaps more ugly things. While I don’t want to behave in these ways, nonetheless, the bad that I don’t want to do is what I often wind up doing. And the good that I want to do, I don’t often do. I want to live in resurrection & not my deplorable humanity. So what’s the answer?
The answer to living in resurrection is to be crucified with Christ – Galatians 2:20. Indeed, there were two men crucified with Christ. One man mocked Jesus with the rest of the bystanders & one man recognized Jesus for who He is, the sinless Son of God.
So on this Good Friday, I chose to join Jesus on the cross, crucifying my flesh so that Jesus resurrected life can flow through my daily living. When I live the crucified life, then I’m unselfish, patient, sensitive, forgiving, kind, reverent & ultimately, genuine love is my default nature! Anyone care to join me in the crucified life so Jesus’ resurrection can live through us?

Be the Difference!

This morning I enjoyed some very tasty chai some where in rural Bangledesh. As my friends and I waited for the gentleman to make the chai, a crowd accumulated around us as we were definite novelties. A person could get jittery surrounding by curious strangers with no communication possibilities. Then add on that we were the only females in the group & a person could be intimidated, even scared.

But I’ve found that being friendly & fun can make these kinds of situations into loads for fun everyone! Furthermore, if a person doesn’t take themselves too seriously it’s even more entertaining for everyone!

Let’s be the difference in our world – full of light, love, joy & LIFE!!

 

Looking for Jesus: Clear Vision

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Ok, I can appreciate that I’m stretching the limits with putting Jesus in my swim goggles, but I think this picture can help us as we look for Jesus.
As you look at this picture, you have to do a double take to think about what you’re seeing. After a moment to process, you figure out my cheesy attempt to put Jesus in some accessories that you would likely not expect. And that’s my point.
Sometimes, we can be too religious about our expectations of where we find Jesus, like in church, in a Bible study or while listening to some worship tunes. But my challenge for you today is to watch for Jesus in the more unconventional settings, maybe even while you work out today (if that’s part of today’s schedule). The truth is that when I swim, I pray, express gratitude to Jesus & review the Bible verses that I’m memorizing. This makes my workout more enjoyable! Here are a few more suggestions on looking for Jesus:

  • At the coffee shop & praying for the person who might look distraught
  • During traffic & looking for Jesus’ help not to be rude or tailgate
  • In conversations that seem to exceed your wisdom or patience – asking for a greater awareness of Jesus being present
  • In the lonely moments of a day, recognizing that Jesus never leaves or forsakes us.

Jesus is everywhere if we’ll be willing to look past the surface 🙂

pass / fail

I’m not a fan of tests but we all got through tests. Sometimes we get to chose from a few options & sometimes we have to chose between two options, like true or false.
Thankfully, we always have help with various tests because the Holy Spirit is or heavenly Help! Additionally, let’s remember that tests usually last for a season & then we can some breathing room after the test.
If you’re going through a test, I pray that the Holy Spirit would help you, give you peace in your heart & some helpful answers / solutions!

Hot Topic: Be An Olympian!

I seriously love watching amatuer athletes obliterate records and defy conventional thinking.  In this year’s Olympics, I’ve dropped my teeth on more than one occassion:

  • watching Ledeky become la pescada with her 800m swim that left me speechless
  • seeing Simone Biles defy gravity, celebrating her epic tenacity & talent
  • observing the winning exchange between Nikki Hamblin & Abbey D’Agostino in the 500m qualifying race

The Olympics this year have been very incredible in many different ways.  As I’ve thought about some of stand-out moments & athletes, I asked myself the questions, “In what way would I want to be an Olympian & not just in an athletic context?  How could I be an olympian person in a spiritual context?”  As I thought about these questions, I remembered the story of Perpetua, a third century martyr, who died as she said, “stand fast in the faith and love one another.”  I applaud the athletic achievements that have marked the Olympics this year, but may our love for Jesus and others be every bit as olympian, with the help of the Holy Spirit!

Keep Looking

“Where is Jo-Jo?”  I’d circled through the stark malnutrition clinic in Angola with Saving Moses, looking for the struggling little baby that I’d met just before we took a break for lunch.  I remembered seeing Jo-Jo’s mom: she was extremely tired and her nerves were obviously frayed.  But I was hopeful for Jo-Jo, since she was in our clinic now and could receive some medical care and a steady supply of the malnutrition formula that has kept literally thousands of babies from dying.

I talked with my friends about Jo-Jo over lunch and I was eager return to the clinic and  encourage her mom that we would do our level best to help her frail daughter to survive and even thrive.  I walked through our clinic again, slower this time, looking for little Jo-Jo in her bright red shirt.  I couldn’t find her so I asked our translator to check in with the nurse to see where Jo-Jo was.  “Her mom took her and left,” was the nurse’s reply.  “We have to find her!  She doesn’t stand a chance of surviving without our help!  Where’s her file, find her address, call the phone number, let’s go to her house, let DO SOMETHING!!!”  I was really upset and I could tell the nurse was also very disturbed.  We looked at Jo-Jo’s chart, found a phone number and only the name of the neighborhood where she lived, since Angola doesn’t use an address system like we do in the US. There was no chance of finding her in the neighborhood listed, it was HUGE.  When we called the number listed on the chart, there was no answer.  So how could we keep trying to find Jo-Jo?  Could we send someone to her neighborhood in the very remote chance we’d find her?

We did this and we kept calling the phone number, but we never found Jo-Jo and given the extremely frail state of her little body, I would suppose that she died.  This has really bothered me for a very long time because Jo-Jo’s mom seemed to have given up all hope for her daughter to live.  What kind of hell does a mom go through to get to the point of giving up hope for her baby to live?  Could I have been more sensitive to the mom’s exhausted state?  What would I do differently in this situation for the future?

Some things are deeply disturbing and this is probably a good thing because such experiences can interrupt our comfortable living and provoke us to bring genuine love and life to the world in which we live.  Let’s keep looking for ways to let God love the world through us.